The dust has settled on the streets of Managua, Nicaragua, following Daniel Ortega's fraudulent re-election in November of 2011. There is nothing like a holiday season to put a damper on political protests - especially in Latin America where the festivities are anticipated all year long.
Nicaragua, historically one of the most unstable countries in a region not known for its stability, appears to have given up its fight. In a season when political activism has seen the overthrow of violent dictators like Gaddafi, Mubarak, and where massive street protests in Syria and Russia threaten their autocratic regimes, Nicaragua's fraudulent election has shone for its silence - and acquiescence. To be sure, there was a large march on November 22 of last year where tens of thousands of people - led by should-be president Fabio Gadea - marched in rejection of the fraud. In the dark areas of the RAAN (Autonomous Northern Atlantic) a shadowy group claiming to be vestiges of the Contra have executed several FSLN leaders and ambushed several police cars. This new year has already seen sporadic protests against now-Dictator Ortega; and there are rumors of a large march on the 9th to reject Ortega's new five year mandate.
But, all in all, the people of Nicaragua seem to have accepted the advent of Dictator Daniel Ortega, Version 2.0.
Daniel Ortega himself has been quiet. Celebrations of his re-election were muted; his discourse - while always combative - has been measured. Always keenly aware of the national mood, and the global realities, Ortega appears to be attempting to fly under the radar.
This does not mean that Daniel Ortega is has changed. In countries aligned with Venezuela's Bolivarian Alliance, the plan for the consolidation of power usually calls for a first term focused on the quiet subversion of the institutions of democracy and the extension of the presidential mandate. Ortega already secured control of the judicial branch and the electoral council. According to independent national observers, the November 6th election fraud allowed the FSLN to swing between 8 and 12 parliamentary seats in their favor - effectively handing them a supermajority.
President Ortega is now set for what Venezuela's Hugo Chavez constantly calls "the deepening of the revolution."
On January 10th, 2012 President Ortega will take the oath of office on a third, unconstitutional term. Witnessing this fraud will be his most important ally: Hugo Chavez. Ortega will also host Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad - himself still in power due to a massive fraud - who is on a tour of the region visiting Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador as well as Nicaragua. President Pepe Lobo, keen to curry favor with Chavez; and outgoing Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom will also be attending.
Adding legitimacy to this event; Brazil's President Dilma Roussef appears to be following Lula's unprincipled diplomacy; and even more strangely Prince Felipe of Spain who appears to have fallen prey to some unwise counsel.
It is a shame that, while the winds of freedom are blowing across the sands of the middle east and up into the snowy streets of Moscow - Latin America is falling back into the grips of another generation of authoritarian leaders. This sad fact should be a lesson to all who love freedom: liberty is difficult to win, but sometimes even more difficult to keep. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."